Common Problems When Performing Splits

First of all, there are two kinds of splits: front and side (the side is often called a Chinese split). In a Front split, you have one leg stretched out to the front and the other leg stretched out to the back. In a side split, both legs are stretched out to your side.

A common problem encountered during a side split is pain in the hip joints. Usually, the reason for this is that split is being performed improperly (you may need to tilt your pelvis forward).

Another common problem encountered during splits (both front and side) is pain in the knees. This pain can often (but not always) be alleviated by performing a slightly different variation of the split.

The Front Split

For front splits, the front leg should be straight and its kneecap should be facing the ceiling or sky. The front foot can be pointed or flexed (there will be a greater stretch in the front hamstring if the front foot is flexed). The kneecap of the back leg should either be facing the floor (which puts more of a stretch on the quadriceps and psoas muscles), or out to the side (which puts more of a stretch on the inner-thigh muscles). If it is facing the floor, then it will probably be pretty hard to flex the back foot, since its instep should be on the floor. If the back kneecap is facing the side, then your back foot should be stretched out (not flexed) with its toes pointed to reduce undue stress upon the knee. Even with the toes of the back foot pointed, you may still feel that there is too much stress on your back knee (in which case you should make it face the floor).

The Side Split

For side splits, you can either have both kneecaps (and insteps) facing the ceiling, which puts more of a stretch on the hamstrings, or you can have both kneecaps (and insteps) face the front, which puts more of a stretch on the inner-thigh (groin) muscle. The latter position puts more stress on the knee joints and may cause pain in the knees for some people. If you perform side splits with both kneecaps (and insteps) facing the front then you must be sure to tilt your pelvis forward (push your buttocks to the rear) or you may experience pain in your hip joints.

By Brad Appelton

Did you know that "Stretching":

Enhances physical fitness

Enhances ability to learn and perform skilled movements

Increases mental and physical relaxation

Enhances development of body awareness

Reduces risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons

Reduces muscular soreness

Increases suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals which lubricate connective tissues


Hold A Positive Image of Yourself

The crucial point to remember is that a positive self-image leads to victory and a negative self-image leads to defeat. Always maintain a strong image of your own strength. Donít let others determine your hold on yourself! People can help reinforce your positive self-image, but never allow them to influence you to hold a low opinion of yourself or to doubt your abilities.

You can develop the pride it takes to be a winner if your self-image is positive. Whether you want to be a martial arts champion, or just strive for excellence in your rank, you must hold a positive image of yourself. Recognize that you have many strong points, and that you are working to overcome your weaknesses as part of a positive process of personal growth. While maintaining an appropriate level of modesty it is important to be proud of your achievements. You must like yourself and believe in yourself so that others will too!

Remember: Your self-image is something you create based upon your development of your talents. You can improve your self-image by following a few suggestions:

Honestly evaluate your present self-image. Get a clear picture of how you view yourself. Identify those qualities you admire and those you would like to change. Then dedicate yourself to making the changes.

2. Concentrate on succeeding in the future. Everyone has experienced per forming at a level below what they are capable of. If you mentally record your successes like seventy millimeter movies inside your head and reduce your less success ful memories to small black ands white images that you can file in the back of your mind, you will look to the future in a positive and growth oriented way.

3. Develop a positive relationship with people in your environment. This is es- pecially important with your instructor, classmates and others who influ- ence your life. Let them know they can count on you and develop a relation ship that causes them to expect great things from you.

4. Develop personal habits that you will be proud of. Other peopleís opinion of you is largely based on your personal habits. Take pride in your appear- ance, dress neatly and keep yourself well groomed. Resolve to be on time wherever you go. These habits will improve other peopleís image of you and will boost your own self-image.

Finally, expect more of yourself and push harder. Remember, we live up to our expectations. Expect to succeed in your goals. When you practice or train, expect to work hard. Expect great things of yourself and youíll achieve them. As your self-image grows so does your pride, and this can actually push you to greater achievements.

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As much as the movements involved in karate training are difficult at first, being still and not moving is sometimes harder still. When students line up to bow in at the beginning and end of class the command in Japanese is kiyotsuke, which is the military equivalent in English of "ATTENTION". What this command requires is that students should stand up straight with their heels touching and their hands by their sides. Blinking and breathing should be the only movements discernable. While this exercise is very difficult, it is important that students should do their best to practice. Sitting in seiza (kneeling) also affords a similar opportunity to be still.

In music there are rests between notes and pauses between movements. In karate practice there are points of essential stillness within certain combinations and between techniques, that create the dynamic balance essential to the rhythm and timing involved. This is especially evident in kata practice, where a good rule of thumb is to pause for one second at the end of each combination, and for two seconds at each kiai. The more absolute the stillness at these times, the more effectively it sets off both the movements that preceded it and those which come afterwards. Effectively, the message is, that in order to understand and benefit fully from movement, you must understand and comprehend the benefit of stillness.

In our everyday lives it is not just what we do that defines something of who we are. It is also a matter of what we do not do. Our search for self knowledge may be assisted by an awareness of how we do all of the activities that we are involved in on a day-to-day basis. This is the yoga of everyday life: a practice of being at one with ourselves in action. We can also benefit from investigating how we are when we do nothing: when there is no activity. How well can we be still and conscious and awake at the same time. Certainly in terms of a student’s progress in the Martial Arts, I measure them not only by their competence in action, but also by their competence at attaining and maintaining a state of stillness. I’m reminded of the motto of the University of Sussex in England, where I read (studied) psychology. "Be still and know". There is something in that if you can practice it.

Sensei Robert H. Mason c2000